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I'm currently baking cookies, brownies and putting icing on cakes. Just waiting for the oven to finish its job. Well I hope you all have enjoyed your Halloween; I've seen some amazing artwork and so on. Maybe I'll do my own. 

:iconhalloweenplz: :iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz:

They All Fall Down

"Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide-awake. But this wide-awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason."

Octavio Paz

There May be a tiny spoiler surrounding Joaquin, but I doubt it is (not very big). Just to be safe, watch the movie first...

Death was not something to be feared, if you where certain someone would remember you. If you had arms around you on the day of your birth, if you had cheering voices at every birthday, if your eye met with someone else's for more than a second glance, you had nothing to fear. But if you didn't have any of those, death was feared.

Ignacio had heard of far off countries where the sun barely shined and the rain came as frequently as clockwork, where people viewed death with terror and did everything to ensure they didn't go to the wrong place. Their wrong place was apparently far more terrible than the Land of the Forgotten. After all, what's so bad about being forgotten, when you get down to it...?

Ignacio wondered how he'd ended up here. He supposed they knew him; the orphan who begged at the streets. The nuns where kind, yet the rumours that followed him never ceased no matter how much time passed. Bad luck followed Ignacio, and it seemed it had attracted the attention of everyone.

Even the Gods.

...

"Xibalba old chum..."

The slithering, soft voice of the sunk through the air like water seeping into moist soil on a rainy day. The sky was bright with oceans of stars, the houses jutting out upwards outlined in black. The beaming light behind window panes and shutters gleamed softly in the street, casting warm shadows as muffled music and chatter floated down the roads. Everyone was inside tonight; away from the soft but cold wind that whistled between their homes. The stillness outside was stark different from the joy inside, almost like the two separate ands below.

The creature was slid from the wall into the town square was decidedly grey; his face was smooth yet hard, skull-shaped and made entirely of stone. A gaping hole sat where a nose should be, and a pair of golden coins rolled back and forth in unison, glinting bright in the evening light, the only thing colourful about his form. Aton his head laid two bull-like horns, as stone as the rest of him. From them hung wooden trinkets bound with string.

His wide-sleeved cloak covered his entire frame; from his broad pointed shoulders down to the bird-like talons that ventured out from the bottom of the cloak. It was covered in looping, circular Aztec markings; A stringy beard that reached all the way to the floor, trailing behind him as he slid, like a cart on wheels, towards his target.

The pair of Aztec coins that made up his eyes where focused on the slumped-shouldered form made of jar nearby, who almost jumped in alarm – must to his indignity. Xibalba turned, straightening himself up to his full height and set his staff down with an audible clank. " Ladrón de Moneda...what a pleasure it is to see you again."

The flatness in his tone, coupled with his raised white brows and the totally lack of enthusiasm made sure the other being knew otherwise. And considering Xibalba had no interest in speaking to him despite not seeing another being (that comprehended what he said no less, unlike the souls that wandered around his realm) it truly meant something. Xibalba adjusted his jaw as if trying to rid it of stiffness.

Ladron de Moneda wasn't deterred. He slid in front of him, his body barely moving an inch. "Oh, what a wit you are...If I had not known any better, I'd have said you where avoiding me."

Xibalba, being notably taller, cocked a brow down at him. "...What makes you say that?"

The other being chortled, merrily. Xibalba, already in a foul mood in having to sneak around like this on a daily basis, did not join him. His chuckle trailed off as an old man, hobbling on a wooden cane, made his slow way by them. Moneda eyed him down disapprovingly, as if the old man had deliberately disturbed his laugh.

His ridiculously long beard lifting off the ground and, his arms (if they where even existent) unmoving as it reached to the old man. Xibalba watched, hiding the spark of interest that gleamed inside his oily form as the tip of the long beard tapped the elderly man on the head.

He hit the floor a second later, not a gasp, not a sound. Like a sack of flour he fell and went still. Moneda cackled loudly, his eyes wide with glee. "Mortals never seem to add dramatics to their ends here; I heard in the cold countries they do a great deal of begging for forgiveness before they go..."

His gravelly voice lowered as he said it, and he slid off like a statue being pushed across the ground rather than a person walking. Xibalba whipped after him, appearing beside him on the next rooftop, his interest caught.

"I take it you sought me out for a reason, Moneda?" He drawled, stroking his goatee as he watched him. The pair of golden coins rolled his way, glinting almost playfully.

"I take it you'll be running to tattle-tell to La Muerte about what just occurrrred?" He crooned softly. Xibalba snorted, rolling his eyes and leaning on his purple staff in annoyance.

"What do you take me for? It isn't like I haven't sped up the misery of a mortal before." He said dryly. What she did not know couldn't hurt her.

He just wished that the stone being would stop beating around the bush and say what he wanted to say. Xibalba didn't even know why he was speaking to him; maybe being down in that wasteland was beginning to get to him at last. To make matters worse, La Muerte had kept her guard up for the first few hundred years, making sure he didn't meddle in any mortal affairs. Perhaps she'd almost forgotten about him, considering he was here. And so was Moneda, whom she despised more than anything he could think of and considering they were together and Moneda had just bended the rules were saying something.

Perhaps she was busy tonight.

"I was bored, Xibalba...aren't you bored?" The slithery voice of the stone creature a few yards away called out softly, like an owner calling their cat for dinner. Xibalba raised a brow in annoyance once more, remembering La Muerte wasn't the only one who disliked the man.

His annoyance vanished seconds later.

"I had an idea for a wager."

Wagers. Bets. Games. Deals. The flaws of deities, the weaknesses of the immortal. The things that could break the laws of reality, of life and death, and downright break the rules. Give something to get something. Wagers where the thing that could get a God's attention all right. They had nothing they couldn't gain, no material possession or pleasure that mortals craved. But wagers...

Xibalba turned around to face him full on, eyes locked on him and unblinking. "A wager, you say...? Tell me...what kind of wager?"

Modena heard the hunger in his voice and the desire to for the game glinting in his eyes. He gave a sort snicker and beckoned with a tilted of his head, his form whipping into a grey pile of sand speeding through the air. Xibalba's form morphed into a trail of zigzagging tar after it, and the two blurs whipped all the way to the outer sides of the town to the waterside.

They landed side-by side on the wooden maritime. Xibalba glanced around, seeing nothing, but Moneda continued to grin dastardly. He gestured slowly with his head to the left, not looking himself, as if knowing already what was there. Xibalba pivoted his head, his eyes narrowing.

A boy wandered into the light cast by the candles in the lanterns above. It was quieter here; the townspeople had all travelled to the centre for their indoor parties. The boy was dressed in baggy, faded clothing; a poncho with red skulls clumsily knitted in being the oldest, looking like it had seen better days a hundred years prior. He was coated in a lair of dust; patches of dirt dry on his face and undisturbed, as if he found it as normal as having hair on his head.

"A guttersnipe?" Xibalba commented, unimpressed. He cackled gently.

"Oh not just any guttersnipe. This little ragamuffin was once a pawn in the game of someone you ran into not long ago in this century..." He said lightly, leaning over to him as if whispering a delicious secret, the two beings watching the boy wandering around the trash. "...Chakal the bandit king."

Xibalba's posture stiffened. Ah yes, how he could forget. Not many mortals had the gall – or smarts – to be able to steal from a God. Arguable, obtaining the power he did but having it stripped away was almost as bad as having no power at all. But why would Chakal employ such a skinny little thing?

"What is your wager...?"

The stone man chortled quietly, tilting his head. "This boy has two enemies. Chakal, whom he has fled...and the guardians of this town, who would love to see him behind bars."

"He is just a child of no worth." Xibalba said plainly, shrugging. As he turned away, disinterested, the other being chimed after him.

"Oh ho, only if you did not know that he helped in the death of one of the town's mighty heroes...he is not so innocent. Perhaps not evil...but not very smart."

Ambiguous, this child was perhaps. Xibalba eyed the boy; small, slight, with a pointed face and sharp cheekbones. A pair of light hazel eyes scanned his whereabouts, sharp and alert, and oddly tidy black hair combed back over his head. Nothing special about his face, he looked less interesting that the dirt that coated it.

Then he saw the dagger. Xibalba's eyes caught it, shining and clean, hanging by his chest under his poncho; the fabric of which lifted when he reached up towards a bottle on a windowsill. Silvery blade and a bone hilt, whittled in skull-shaped carvings, and along the blade green marks waved along it like a river; curling and bright. "...How interesting..." He smirked a little.

"As I said; Chakal wishes him dead, or perhaps at least severely injured." Maneda knew he had Xibalba's undivided interest now, and he slid up to his side, grinning fiendishly to compliment Xibalba's own look, "And this town's beloved General Posada would love to see him behind bars forever for his aiding said Bandit King...question is..."

"..Who will find him first?" Xibalba finished smoothly, stroking his chin in thought, glancing upward. Ah, how he loved the simplicity of a bet. Chakal or Posada? Well, with the quote-on-quote 'men' in his elite, he doubt that old fool would find the boy first. But Chakal's men weren't too bright, and the giant wouldn't do all the searching himself.

"So...Who do you wager will seal the boy's fate first?" Modena crooned from behind, grinning pointedly, displaying a row of uneven, sharp, golden teeth. Xibalba looked over his shoulder, eyeing him through the flames of his enviously coloured candles.

"Very well, Old Friend...I bet that Chakal will seal his fate first." He turned to face him, elongated hand stretched out for the shake. The stone man slid forward, back still as straight as a post.

"And I bet that the town will seal his fate first." He concluded, grinning mirthlessly. Xibalba idly wondered if he'd finally use his hands for once, if they existed – and blinked when his beard lifted up and curled around his fingers; he almost drew back in disgust. But, to preserve his dignity and not to be seen as a squeamish creature, he shook his hand...beard.

"Then our wager is set.

...

And They All Fall Down - A 'Book of Life' fanfic

Talk about biting off more than I can chew. I have two other fanfics and a very busy life right now, so this continuing soon may not be possible. It will remain separate for now; a small 'opening' piece to an idea I had. Another small written piece can be found on my DA account along with two Xibalba pictures (one picture has the written work underneath, connection to this story here.)

I need to draw Ladrón de Moneda.

Look up his name in Google translate o.o His beard's longness is based off of Xibalba's concept Art.

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Unfair Wagers by What-if-Writer
Unfair Wagers
The speed in which the Death God stood was so jarring that the warmth in the hall seemed to fall to its knees. His wings blocked out the colourful glass behind him, and cast a tall, terrifying shadow over the meek form at the end of the table. Ignacio felt the angry words die on his skinless lips as Xibalba wordless slid onto the table and towards him, hands behind his back, back poised straight. As his dark-soaked robe slid against the plates of food they rotted and cluttered to the floor, as black and depraved of life as he was.

"How dare you speak to a God like that...?" He drawled, an indifferent, unimpressed look on his skeletal face - but anger burned behind the turned away skulls. Ignacio felt a shiver travel up his spine, and he managed a single step back. As if sensing him about to flee, Xibalba slid off the table and onto the ground, taking a single step. He towered over him, bigger than any living man he'd ever seen. He leaned down, back arching, but was still nowhere near eye level.

"You come in here prattling on about how its...unfair." He remarked dryly, before leaning right down, inches from Ignacio's face. He leaned back just a little to avoid him, feeling cold with fright. His square teeth had morphed into sharp, pointed fangs, so subtly that the sight jumped out at him. "Just what are you going to do about it?"

There was something in his grin that mocked him, yet showed interest at the same time- as if perhaps Ignacio could provide even further amusement.
The boiling fury of the unfairness of it all overpowered the terror he felt at the looming giant. Ignao pointed up at him, right at his face- only to see the threatening grin widen. 
"I was not meant to die that early, I know it - who are you to gamble away lives that aren't yours to gamble?!"

Xibalba's grin twitched downward. "I don't think you realize who you're speaking to, boy..." His look became a careless grin once again, and he straightened up. Ignacio's finger remained suspended, though his anger had depleted. Xibalba swooped back into his chair, lifting up a wine glass and sipping casually. The rotten food lay forgotten; he didn't mind it at all. The other people in the room dare not move, but Ignacio stepped forward.

He thought hard.

Slowly, and frowning temperamentally, he marched up to Xibalba's side at the edge of the table. Xibalba watched him, sipping away, and with the final gulp he slowly pulled the cup back and grinned mockingly at the child. He was doing all he could to make sure it was clear he wasn't taking him seriously.

Ignacio stood there, glowering. "...Why don't... we add a second wager...?"

He saw Xibalba's snow-white eyebrow quirk. "Oh?"

"How about a game..." He rephrases, turning away and idly poking an empty wine glass, speaking slowly as he tried to remain in control, confident. It took everything he had. "If I win, I get my life back."

"What makes you think a God would take a wager from you?" Xibalba chortled, waving a dismissive hand. Ignacio slowly moved away, along the table, making sure he was a safe distance before he spoke.

"You really don't have many hobbies, do you?" He glanced over his shoulder, seeing a look of indignant fury fly over the god's fluid features. "You aren't scared of loosing are you?"

That did it. But perhaps too well.

Xibalba was back in front of him; whipping through the air like a black tar lightning bolt, landing in a flash of green and grey. Xibalba was closer than he'd been before, and his sharp, long fingers lifted Ignacio's chin just a little, the pointed end sending a jab of pain through his chin. The dead boy dare not move, terror freezing him in place. Xibalba's growl faded into a cruel cackle, as he loomed down to eye-level at last.

"I'll play your game, Ignacio...if you win our little sport, you return up to the dismal land of the living." He pulled his hand away, and snapped his fingers together before the boy's face - a miniature figure of himself, alive, appeared on the tip of his Death God's finger. Ignacio stared at it, reaching out curiously despite himself - to which Xibalba lifted it away, smirking. "IF you win, you win your life..." He repeated - but then he twisted his hand and the figure fell - crumbling into horribly grew dust.

The boy felt sick with horror.

"But if I win...not only will you remain dead..." Xibalba drawled, his eyes rotating around to look directly at him, death pointed and poised in a wicked grin, "You will be sent to the Land of the Forgotten - forever..."

There was a loud, audible gasp from the other deceased people gathered in the banquet hall. Ignacio felt dread, horrible dread, grip his bones. The land of the forgotten - all eternity, alone, in silence...no warmth, no food, no laughter. Alone. Forever...
Trying to comprehend eternity of nothingness made him panic. If he still had lungs they'd be heaving with shock. 

He could hear his breath now, small and whimpering, as he tried to think. He looked behind him, where the others shook their heads, hands over their mouths in horror. Don't do it, its not worth it.

Xibalba held out a cold, elongated hand, a brow lifted and grinning as always, cruel and mocking. Ignacio stared at the hand.
"By the ancient rules..."

He reached out. He drew his hand back, evoking a dark chuckle from the God...perhaps if he hadn't, Ignacio would have let himself run. He screwed his eyes shut and took his hand.

Xibalba's eyes narrowed in conniving way.

"The wager is set."
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Lifeforce Chapter 31

“It is a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.” 
― J.K. Rowling,

Dread for What Has Already Passed

You could always find Ickabar. Over a crowd of a thousand heads; a sea of uniformed cadets, an ocean of people. If you dressed and positioned every lombax on the planet in the exact same way, you could always find Ickabar. There he was; the purple one with the funny curvy ear markings, and the ghostly eyes. The one looking like he doesn't even realize he's there.

But this time that was not the case. And lo and behold, it was on the day where he was absolutely, positively, meant to be there. Fergus grumbled in exasperation, shoving aside the curtain leading to the backrooms of the building. No doors here; everything was smooth walls and curtains. He supposed the familiar everyday 'whoosh' sound wasn't exactly fitting to this kind of event. Imagine the ceremony being cut short by that noise...

He moved down the lonely, shadowy hall to the dressing rooms, pushing through the half-open door. Clutters of barely used brushes and hair-trimmers lay in a messy manner, as if they'd been used to fiddle with rather than their appointed task. And there he spotted a familiar tuff of purple huddled on a stool beside the desk; hands on his knees, shoulders hunched. Seeing Ickabar so nicely dressed was odd; he wasn't a messy person or a fan of baggy clothing, but he hadn't ever worn a black suite, shirt and tie. Pale blue; his fiancé probably thought it matched him. His shoulder belt hung there beside it; its round disk gleaming dimly in the light.

"...So this is where you've been hiding." Fergus remarked plainly. Ickabar didn't budge, he gave no indication he'd even heard him. Fergus sat beside him slowly; his scruffier shirt and tie flopping with him. Wearing these useless black suit trousers and this shirt was as far as he'd go in fancy terms. Ickabar swallowed; his throat trembling with effort. He stared ahead.

Fergus didn't smirk or laugh. He had no lifting jokes. "...Usually it's the wife that gets the jitters. Then again, nothing's cliché where you're concerned."

Ickabar said nothing still.

Fergus heaved a sigh. "I'm no expert on relationships, and heck, I've never been to a wedding. But I guess if thousands of people have done it already through this God-Forsaken Galaxy's history...then you can as well."

"I love her, Fergus. More than anything. I look at her and..." Ickabar sounded helpless, almost pleading. Fergus glanced sideways at him. "But...but I don't even know why I feel like this. I don't know why I feel anything. I've never felt so happy...so why...?"

"..." Fergus turned his eyes to gaze at the wall before them. "Maybe you're just not used to being happy."

Ickabar's ears lifted gently, and his a-jar mouth closed, his wide eyes softening. As if a case of ice around him had melted just a little. Slowly, his head shifted around and he finally looked at Fergus, the latter glancing back, his face still set in that half-frown of indifference. Ickabar gave a small, hesitant smile, a soft huff of something that was just the spark of a laugh emitting from his throat. Fergus returned a half-grin, briefly, and Ickabar stood.

He smoothed back the strands of hair that defied his neat head. Fergus stood, dusting off his hands from habit, and shoved him along out of the room. Leo was there, grinning and finding this situation far more normal than either of them. Wedding jitters were all he saw, taking Ickabar's shoulders and directing his now smiling form down the hall, releasing him from Fergus's rougher prodding. In the light waited the crowd, and Duck with the pillow with the rings as the page boy. And his future wife, waiting patiently, perhaps one of the only ones who also knew what was really going through Ickabar's mind.

The line and the road to the alter seemed to glow as gold as the sun when the vows where said, and Ickabar and Jana's hands met and they spun in an exhilarated dance as laughter swam around them among the applause. It wasn't the words or the repeated phrases that they would remember, but Ickabar and his wife spinning in each other's arms, peaceful yet elated, their hands webbed together like delicate threads.

Then they parted, as if by a gust of wind back into the arms of friends and family; hands shaking, hugs exchanged. Ickabar felt hands petted his shoulders; the archaeologists from his group at the Asteroid Base where beside him; Marlo's pink face full of chortles, Boddo repeating his congratulations over and over, and Canter just trying to get a word in edgeways. Duck was gently tugging at his hand, Leo chattering behind him about the future. Fergus hovered beside them both, hands in his pockets, his shoulders slumped in apparent boredom. Ickabar could see the smirk stuck on his face, as if he was wondering if this was some alcohol-induced apparition rather than real life. Ickabar Locksher had married.

Ickabar felt another, smaller yet sturdier hand slip into is, and looked up to grin back at Kaden, barely able to hear him over the voices, but he knew that he was congratulating him, too. Kaden's hand left his, then, and Ickabar turned his head...without knowing why.

He felt the fibres of his being freeze, then melt, then warm all in the same moment. The breath was gone from him, yet he said nothing and moved no muscle. In the shadows of the doorway in the right corner, over the heads of various acquaintances bustling in the light, stood a figure that jarred him to the core. Raymas Lars stood in the shade, clapping his hands slowly and softly, his eyes soft and half-lidded as if watching a gentle fire, warmth so familiar and heartbreaking in his eyes that it almost made Ickabar buckle.

His grin was gone, but his happiness was not. He felt something in him, buried deep, lift and transform from a weight into a light feeling in his ribs that he couldn't explain. It made him feel as if he was flying. He smiled, softly, back at Raymas in a silence only the two of them could experience.

Ickabar glanced behind him, just for a split second, before his eyes met his again. Slowly, their smiles slipped, but did not vanish even then. The sorrow, small and faint, could not overcome the bursting joy that he felt and that engulfed this place. But it was there all the same.

Ratchet knew who they were thinking about. Who had not come, and who was being missed.

...

Ratchet didn't know how long he'd knelt there, in front of the demolished wall and rusted kitchen that had once housed a loving family. He could feel his legs starting to numb and ache from the stiffness. Slowly, he pushed himself up, his head bent. The yellow lombax stared down at the cracked photo-frame in his hands; his grip tight to the point of his fingertips becoming bloodless and cold. Suddenly the vacancy on this planet's surface wasn't just imposing, not just a weight. It was near suffocating. He felt a lump clogging his throat.

What did this memories hold that could help him? Ickabar deserved remembrance, yes, but how did seeing the happiness he had help him avenge him, avenge them all? It felt almost mocking, seeing how naive and unaware they all where. How Ickabar had been sad that Tachyon hadn't come to his wedding. Closer and closer he got to that stupid tree, yet his questions only grew.

I'll end up going nuts like this. I don't understand. How does this help me? How does this help me stop Tachyon- stop them all?

No answer came to him. Ratchet exhaled slowly through his nose, and turned away from the destroyed kitchen, and moved back into the hall by the door.

His shoe hit against something smooth and round. Ratchet looked down. A rattle, dented and dusty, lay by his foot. I jingled softly as he picked it up.

Ratchet stared at it. Ickabar's children. Marlo had said nothing. If Ickabar had children...then...

He screwed his eyes shut, and tried not to think of it. But it turned out he had no choice.

...

Ickabar crept giddily up the hill and he was barely able to contain his excitement. He forced it on himself, though. It resulted in him practically jumping on the spot whenever he paused. He tip-toed around the tree, gripping the envelope merrily like a child with a picture to show their parents. Fergus was reading a book, a frown (not surprisingly) with his cheek resting on his palm. Ickabar moved over.

Fergus's ear twitched. "I'm not in the mood for it, Icky." He commented, "Whatever surprise it is, it can wait 'till later."

"Oh, but this is beyond any of the others." Ickabar said slowly, eyeing the back of Fergus's head intently. Fergus sighed in slight frustration.

"Just as long as- "The envelope was opened, and its contents, a simple square sheet of paper, lowered itself in front of Fergus's face. Ickabar let it slip into his hands and began trotting off, letting the bomb tick its way to the countdown's end. Fergus stared at it, face hard and disbelieving. Then his eyes widened, and widened, and his face swapped into alarm, exasperation and even more disbelief. "...You can't be serious!"

In his hand was ultrasound scan picture, of a little form with tiny hands and feet, and little ears in a distinct shape that Fergus saw everyday of his life. Yet it seemed so very, very impossible.

Ickabar beamed at him in overflowing happiness, his voice light. "I'm going to be father!" He spun around, whooping like an idiot. "It's the most amazing – you have no idea...It's just..."

Fergus gaped at him incredulously. "You're kidding me...!"

"Nope." Ickabar chortled. He danced off before Fergus could question him further, as Fergus had absolutely no idea what to think or feel. The first things where that Ickabar, the biggest child-at-heart person he knew and who was barely into his twenties, was having a child. Ickabar freaking squared.

He didn't know if he should congratulate him or beat him senseless for stupidity. He staggered after him, holding the photo, other hand outstretched as he tried to catch up, his words stumbling right along with him in angry exclamations,

"Hang on a minute, we have to talk – Icky, where're you going! 'Ey! Get back here...!"

...

He intended to leave. He tried not to look at anything else.

But his eyes caught the first step of the staircase. He looked almost without meaning to. "..." The upstairs landing was dark, and he couldn't even see the outlines of any doors. It was growing darker outside; the gorgeous sunset adorning the deserted planet outside. It made Ratchet's stomach turn. Ignoring the outside, yet dreading the inside, Ratchet hesitantly placed a boot on the first step. He heard no creak, surprisingly. He inwardly sighed to himself. What, did he expect a holo-film creak, maybe the wind whistling spookily with the ghost of his past?

Happy to hear some of his own witty remarks in his mind again, he slowly ascended. The silence was too much, almost, and he was glad for the sound of his footsteps. The landing was narrow, with doors on each side; various rooms. Perhaps he could find a study, or somewhere Ickabar worked.

Ratchet made his way to the door at the end of the hall, and opened it, forcing himself to quicken. He poked his head in, and froze all over again. Untouched, and coated in dust once again. I desk piled with books and scribble-covered paper; pictures, runes and diagrams pinned on the walls. It almost reminded him of Alistair's hollow, though more...cosy. An empty mug lay on the desk, long forgotten. It still had coffee beans lying inside, waiting for the boiling water from the kettle that would never arrive.

Ratchet felt more out of place than he ever had in his life. He stared over the walls once more, noting the markings again, but something caught his eye. A drawings. A child's drawing, messy and muddled. But he could make it out.

Purple, legless, shaped like an upside-down tear drop with arms. Sharp teeth and claw-like hands. A drawing of a Loki had been placed on the wall. Ratchet stared. What the heck? Ickabar's child had drawn this – but how could he possibly know what a Loki looked like so accurately...?

Ickabar studied Thora; he obviously would have come across the Loki. But still...it was unnerving. Ratchet stepped closer, peering at the fearsome creature. A morbid thing for a kid to draw, the malicious, spiked grin of the ghostly being would probably be accurate enough to send Qwark reeling in fright.

Ratchet felt something grip his throat, and for a second he thought someone had seized it – but his hands flew up to his neck and he found nothing but air...

...

Ickabar tapped his fingers together; each bony finger meeting its counterpart exactly. He focused on the movement of his hands, hearing nothing. No cries, no yells. They had asked him to leave, though he'd wanted to be there.

He waited, the clock ticking. Leo and Fergus would be here soon. Raymas was almost there. He ought to be. He was the Godfather after all.

Ickabar would have hardly noticed if they arrived. And he didn't; Raymas came in like a phantom, moving quietly to stand in front of him. It was only when he felt the touch of his hand on his shoulder did he move. Ickabar looked up, finally awakening from the spiraling fear. A little, that is.

"...Hello...how are you holding up?" Raymas murmured slowly. Almost carefully. Ickabar stared back, eyes wide, wondering what in the world it looked like. He certainly wasn't managing. He was losing his mind, he knew it. But he supposed this was as far as Raymas could go to making an encouraging speech. Now, at least. They had not been as they were as children after he left.

Fergus and Leo appeared at the end of the hall, moving far noisier, Fergus stern, Leo looking like he'd just come away from running in the gym. Duck was at their tail, soft fur messy and dark eyes wide with uncertainty.

They moved in, and Ickabar was surrounded by them. He swallowed, staring up at them. Leo offered a small, gentle smile. Ickabar was glad for it.

"I'll be all right."

His rough voice was so sure that Ickabar's anxiety dimmed just a little. But then he looked at Fergus, his brazen honestly the thing he always had to face. Fergus stared back, eyes narrowed, frowning as always. But then his features smoothened. "...I'm no psychic...but we wouldn't known by now if something was really wrong."

They heard the nurse call him, and Ickabar was on his feet. The anxiety evaporated, and suddenly, when he stood, he felt like he'd stepped out of a ship into a completely new planet. Out of the heat into the cold. Someone else had stood up. The Ickabar from seconds ago had faded away into memory.

Ickabar followed the nurse into the ward, and saw his beautifully wife, exhausted but smiling, strong and enduring, her hair spread out on her pillow – and holding out something small and bundled out to him. His arms reached out on their own accord, enveloping the bundle in his arms. So soft and warm, and so very tiny...

A little pink nose and tiny little ears flopped against a matching tiny head. Ickabar saw purple fur as dark as his own, but brown stripes decorating it, a whole new pattern. Miniature fists curled against the baby's chin, his chest lifting and falling with each breath. A tiny person, so fascinating...alive, and thinking, breathing...

His son.

The shaking breath that fell from his throat was barely a laugh, and his vision blurred. He felt alive. Ickabar felt sturdy, so sure yet so scared. Scared of what kind of father he'd be, what to do...yet so sure of one thing. He had a path now, a life, a purpose. His wife and son.

He sat down beside her and wrapped his arm around her; Jana's arms encased him.

Ickabar had never felt so warm.

...

Ratchet shuddered as he shook the memory away. Here in this place it felt like a sting to see such happiness. He felt different, too, but not in a good way. He didn't feel like himself.

Ickabar's son.

His son had probably drawn this. Maybe another. He had no idea how many children he had, or how old they'd been when it happened. Ratchet swallowed, his throat aching. His children would have been here when the attack happened, when everything was destroyed. He didn't dare think about it.

Did Tachyon know?

Ratchet bit down on his lip. If he had, would he have gone out of his way to...?

Focus.

Yes. He had to keep his head. Or what was left of it. He was sure Clank was booking him a cat-scan for when this mission was over. As if it could still be classified as a simple mission anymore. He just wanted it all to be over, to be able to lie down and sleep without fearing another one of those memories would plague his rest.

Ratchet shook his head and moved to the desk, shifting through paper. More markings, some notes on the Thora. He glanced over them. Years, long lifespan, healing-

He looked at that page, pulling it closer in the dim light. Just bullet-points. The network in which they are connected to is unlike anything we've encountered. Healing ability far beyond NanoTech- yet seems to hold the same structure according to research by 'D.E' whoever this researcher was. Perhaps it inspired it long ago? Lifeforce grants a lifespan that is unfathomable to us. Not water, not organic, not digital. The only thing closest to describing it is 'energy' and even then that's stretching it.

Ratchet raised a brow slowly. No kidding. D.E? More puzzles, great. His eyes darted around the lines impatiently.

Must look into these notes more. For some reason I feel unease.

Unease. Ratchet's ears flew up and he leaned down, snatching up the next piece of paper. His pupils shrunk in slight alarm. He could almost feel the panic radiating off the paper; Ickabar's writing was barely comprehensible. The purple lombax had been writing fast.

Something is wrong, very wrong. I never could have expected this, but what else could I have, researching something as powerful as this- but I never thought it could be so close after being so dormant, for so very long. Something is inside the Lifeforce, my presumptions of its sea-like network may be true, but I thought it as a thing without dominance. Or perhaps it was, once, but not anymore.

I understand now, why all those who researched it stopped short, stopped and packed everything away.

I've sent word out to my colleagues. It must stay hidden.

It can't wake up.

Ratchet had never felt scared like this before. Nor had he felt so utterly panicked, as the realization pounded into him like a heavy bell toll. In the memories, something had been there. Something that had called to him in that vision where the light had beckoned him but something else called him back. Something that got closer and closer with each vision, hovering behind Ickabar's memories. The sheer unease of knowing something had been gradually getting closer and closer made Ratchet shudder.

He let the notes slide from his hands back onto the desk.

What the heck is this...?

Something flashed. Ratchet looked up so quickly that his neck's muscle seared with pain. His heart leaped. Behind the office door that he had just come in through, a blue light gleamed from the outlines. Ratchet felt fear, actually fear, surge through him. He at least knew that everything else he faced could be hit!

And it faded, moving away. Ratchet's fear melted and he sped towards the door, his arm knocking it open – the light had fluttered back down the stairs. Ratchet, his heart pounding in his ears, gave chase, almost toppling down the stairs.

It slid out the door as easily as a gust of wind. Ratchet slid through, tripping slightly, but continued running, the urgency not to lose it making his head spin. It took him away a little, down a path away from the house and the field, but despite this he didn't give up. He could go back; he just needed to know where it was going.

He passed a slightly different route. Piles of rubble towered around him. The floating light ahead was slowing down. Ratchet stared, slowly coming to a halt. The light had shrunk to just a little gleam hovering above him.

And Ratchet looked behind it. His heart sank.

The land before him was completely flat, no buildings, no roads. Flattened by the massacre; a wasteland right in the middle of the city. Here, he knew, Tachyon's machines and troopers had stamped through, destroying everything and everyone in their way. The mounds of rubble and dirt looped like dunes of sand.

...Oh no.

Ratchet wanted to vomit. This is where the most horrible of memories took place. This is where Tachyon had marched through on his throne, leading the horde. Where that person clawed through the ashes on his stomach. Where the child had screamed. Where Ickabar had seen the cragmite through the smoke, coming closer and closer to where he stood.

This was the place that ran with their blood.

You should have seen the looks on their faces, lombax. When poor little Percival rose gloriously with his army; the drophids raining DOWN upon Fastoon- with weapons designed by their own scientists! I was no longer their charity case, I was Emperor Tachyon!

Ratchet clenched his fists. The hate made the nausea burn like paper set alight. But it drained him. He couldn't make a sound, kick anything. Slowly, the anger lessened, but didn't vanish. It left him in a state of despair and turmoil he knew he wasn't going to get out of. Not until this ended, and not until he knew exactly what happened.

He'd been led a little further away from the hill. But perhaps there was some warped reason, according to the Lifeforce.

"...Almost there." He murmured. That's what it seemed. He was almost glad for it. To get the worst over with, even if it tore him apart to witness. Maybe he'd changed his mind when it actually happened...

The little light above him shimmered gently.

Ratchet and Clank: Lifeforce Chapter 31

Well, things speed up in this Chapter. After slow build-up you suddenly get this bombardment, so I apologize. I hope this doesn't appear rushed.

Urgh I'm tired. I have assignments to do, and will probably have more, and I'm tempted to write a separate smaller story...but I'll try to get the next chapter up as fast as possible. Hopefully my brain won't opt out.

Almost a year since this story began. We're STILL not past the Ickabar Story Arch. Jeeze.

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I'm Wearing Candles by What-if-Writer
I'm Wearing Candles
Also titled 'I will never draw this guy again' or 'Messy Xibalba Attempt'

I'm going to see the movie tomorrow; it came out later here. Can YOU wear candles...?

Something is wrong with his eyes...

I have another doodle of him with Ignacio, my oc, but it may never be gone...

You know, his name is what Tulio and Miguel for El Darado accidentally send their gold to. To Xibalba!
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I'm currently baking cookies, brownies and putting icing on cakes. Just waiting for the oven to finish its job. Well I hope you all have enjoyed your Halloween; I've seen some amazing artwork and so on. Maybe I'll do my own. 

:iconhalloweenplz: :iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz::iconhalloweenplz:

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:icontreestampstudios:
TreeStampStudios Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2014  New member Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for the watch and fave :flirty: 
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:iconwhat-if-writer:
What-if-Writer Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2014
You're welcome :la:
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:icontreestampstudios:
TreeStampStudios Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2014  New member Professional Digital Artist
:icondragonhugplz:
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:iconwhat-if-writer:
What-if-Writer Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2014
:iconhugplz:
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:iconmoopsybear:
moopsybear Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi :)

how are you?
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:iconwhat-if-writer:
What-if-Writer Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014
Quite good, have a cold and lots of homework XD
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:iconmoopsybear:
moopsybear Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
hmm feel bad :I

apparently I have a habit of wearing a hoodie no matter how hot or cold xD so no cold for me :iconspazdancingplz:
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:iconwhat-if-writer:
What-if-Writer Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014
Lol XD :dance:
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:iconmarioguy3:
MarioGuy3 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014
You're welcome, mate. :)
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:iconlombaxartist:
lombaxartist Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2014  Student Digital Artist
You wanna join my slyfancharacters group? it's my first time making it
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